Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This year, forget resolutions. Do 30-day trials instead.

There's no particular reason to make resolutions around January first.
Anything you could change with a resolution you could change anyway. You don't need the calendar's approval.
Don't set yourself up for failure. Breaking a resolution erodes your confidence that you can accomplish things you set your mind to.
Set yourself up for a win with the 30 day trial. Whatever you're changing, do it every day for 30 consecutive days. Then you've succeeded. - Substitute your own issue, exercise, diet, getting up early, eating a good breakfast, keeping your desk organized - whatever it is you're looking to improve.
To an external observer, your behaviour wouldn't be any different than a resolution, but psychologically that 30 days is a bite-sized win. Your brain gets rewarded for following through on its commitment and you become more confident you can follow through on other things in the future.
The 30 days is short enough that whatever you're considering, you can muscle through and get it done. After all it's only 30 days. It's also long enough that if you decide that what you're testing is making your life better you can easily lock in the routine. Otherwise, you can decide that you've given it a fair shot and that it's not for you.
Power tip: Tweak the system. If you want to get up and run, wear your exercise shorts to bed. Have the shoes right there, then wake up and start running before you even think about it. When you're awake, make it easy for the groggy you of tomorrow morning to execute your action plan.
Don't go crazy. If you want your change to stick, most people can only change one (maybe two) things at a time. Start with one change and see how it goes. After 30 days and it's become routine then you can keep going and add something else. If you overload on the changes too early you'll crack and the changes might not stick.
Leveraging the power of routines can help you make your life what you want it to be. You have the power to make the changes, not the calendar. Stick with them for 30 days, and even if you decide not to continue, you've successfully tried something out. Get the win, build the routine, and soon you'll find yourself doing better than you ever expected. Happy new year.

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